[ see-luh-kanth ]
/ ˈsi ləˌkænθ /
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a crossopterygian fish, Latimeria chalumnae, thought to have been extinct since the Cretaceous Period but found in 1938 off the coast of southern Africa.



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Origin of coelacanth

1605–15; <New Latin Coelacanthus originally a genus name, equivalent to coel-coel- + Greek -akanthos -spined, -thorned, adj. derivative of ákantha spine, thorn
coe·la·can·thine [see-luh-kan-thahyn, -thin], /ˌsi ləˈkæn θaɪn, -θɪn/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for coelacanth

/ (ˈsiːləˌkænθ) /


a primitive marine bony fish of the genus Latimeria (subclass Crossopterygii), having fleshy limblike pectoral fins and occurring off the coast of E Africa: thought to be extinct until a living specimen was discovered in 1938
C19: from New Latin coelacanthus, literally: hollow spine, from coel- + Greek akanthos spine
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for coelacanth

[ sēlə-kănth′ ]

Any of various fishes of the group Coelacanthiformes or Actinistia, having lobed, fleshy fins. Coelacanths are crossopterygians, the ancient group of lobe-finned fishes that gave rise to land vertebrates. They were known only from Paleozoic and Mesozoic fossils until a living species (Latimeria chalumnae) was found in the Indian Ocean in 1938. A second Latimeria species was described in 1999.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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